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James Taylor

I will use this blog to discuss business challenges and how technologies like analytics, optimization and business rules can meet those challenges.

About the author >

James is the CEO of Decision Management Solutions and works with clients to automate and improve the decisions underpinning their business. James is the leading expert in decision management and a passionate advocate of decisioning technologies business rules, predictive analytics and data mining. James helps companies develop smarter and more agile processes and systems and has more than 20 years of experience developing software and solutions for clients. He has led decision management efforts for leading companies in insurance, banking, health management and telecommunications. James is a regular keynote speaker and trainer and he wrote Smart (Enough) Systems (Prentice Hall, 2007) with Neil Raden. James is a faculty member of the International Institute for Analytics.

Michael Vizard had an interesting post (via @merv) - Making Business Intelligence Applications Smarter in which he began with the great phrase:
One perplexing oxymoron of IT industry is the simple fact that most business intelligence applications are not all that smart
In Smart (Enough) Systems Neil and I argued that the way to make systems smarter, smart enough to be useful in fact, is to focus analytics on improving the operational decisions that drive the day to day aspects of your business. These micro decisions can and should be improved with analytics and this makes a huge difference because these little decisions add-up - small improvements make a big cumulative difference.

It seems to me that the reason BI applications are not that smart has two causes. The first, the absence of deep analytic tools, is the one Michael identifies. But I think there is a second problem - a failure to focus on the decisions that are going to be made differently. Data mining and predictive analytics can simplify data to amplify its value and turn uncertainty into usable probability. But the value of this will always be limited if it is not focused on decisions. And, I would argue, operational decisions at that. This is the premise of decision management and this is how you can use your data to make your systems smarter.

Posted June 4, 2009 5:42 PM
Permalink | 2 Comments |


James - I agree with your abservation that the average BI system is not smart. Although I tend to say 'so what'?

But I disagree on the 'how come' a bit. I don't think the lack of deep analytic tools is the prime reason for BI not being intelligent.

In my opinion it's the lack of education and skills concerning analytical methods and thinking in the indivual as well as the lack of 'an analytic culture in the organization'- which Davenport also writes about.

I agree with Ronald. Going deep to analyze the data available to the organization is great, but if the user getting the output of that is not trained or capable of understanding how to use that information, it is all a waste of effort.
In my organization, we are adopting a model of not only providing a richer and more complete analytic picture of the data we have available but also providing succeedingly progressive levels of training and education to create a set of users who can really understand and manipulate the information we provide to create new knowledge. This even includes a masters level certificate program in health IT engineering.

The comments and opinions expressed in this comment are not necessarily those of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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